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Boris is loyal to the party, especially if it’s late night

Inside Politics: British PM’s refusal to resign contrasts with Irish politicians


There used to be a time that if an Irish minister was caught up in a scandal and refused demands to resign, you could be as sure as night follows days that some Opposition TD would pipe up and say: “If this happened in Westminister, you would be gone already”.

Not any more.

It will take the political equivalent of an earthquake to shift Boris Johnson out of office at appears. He used many words yesterday to describe the humiliating findings of the report by senior civil servant Sue Gray on parties held in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdown: “humbling, bitter and painful, full responsibility, utterly intolerable, apologise.

But the R word never featured. “I overwhelmingly feel it is my job to get on and deliver,” he intoned, gravely.

The partying and excessive drinking in the offices of the British prime minister makes both recent Irish comparisons - Golfgate and the Bubblygate celebration at the Department of Foreign Affairs - seem like meetings of the local temperance society.

Gray notes that at one event in June 2020 one participant got sick, a scuffle developed between another two, and the official who was in charge of ethics supplied the karaoke machine.

On the eve of Prince Philip’s funeral another party was held where some revellers did not leave until 4am. Staff at the parties were often rude to cleaners. The gatherings became known as “wine time Fridays”.

One party was starting just as a televised Downing Street press conference on Covid-19 was finishing during lockdown - staff were advised not to not to walk around “waving bottles of wine”.

Senior supporters of Johnson in the British Government were quick to sent out texts and social media comments backing the prime minister, saying he had fully apologised and it was time to move on.

There are a few Irish ministers who were forced to resign in recent years who with some justification felt aggrieved afterwards when the full facts surrounding their departure became public; principally Alan Shatter and Frances Fitzgerald.

But given what happened in Downing Street, Dara Calleary’s resignation after Golfgate sticks out like a sore thumb. When it comes to brazening it out, Westminster leaves Leinster House in the ha-penny place these days.

A Minister for Passports

Sounds a bit niche, does it not? But the inordinate delays for families getting passports have become a large issue. And TDs and Senators around the country are feeling the brunt of it from their constituents, with holidays quickly approaching but many having no little purple booklet to show for themselves.

As Jennifer Bray reports, Fine Gael politicians have called for a junior minister with responsibility for passports to be appointed.

Senator Martin Conway told the meeting any planned diplomatic appointments should be postponed and those personnel should be redirected to the passport office to help with applications. He said a junior minister should be appointed who would take responsibility for the issue.

Charlie Flanagan told the meeting that up to 30 per cent of his constituency work is linked to passports.

Almost 200,000 people are awaiting passports in advance of summer holiday season. However, the Department of Foreign Affairs says there is no backlog and the main reason for delays is that four in 10 passport applications are not complied properly.

Michael Ring, who was also very angry, called on secretary general Joe Hackett to resign because of the situation. He was also critical of Hackett’s salary.

Nearly half a million passports have been issued this year on the back of an increased number of requests for an Irish passport post-Brexit from people in Britain and Northern Ireland.

Expect more fire and fury when the issue is debated in the Dáil during the afternoon.

Best Reads

Martyn Turner’s cartoon on Party G

A new report on the prevalence of Radon shows 170,000 Irish homes at risk.

Miriam Lord’s column gives a blow-by-blow account of the Dáíl battle between two political bruisers, Pearse Doherty and Darragh O’Brien.

The much shared moment when basketball coach Steve Kerr refussed to talk about the game and instead passionately denounced the US gun lobby following the massacre of 21 people in Texas.

Dáil

9.00: Parliamentary Questions taken by Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

10.30: Parliamentary Questions taken by Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue

12.00: Leaders’ Questions:

13.44: Statements on the Irish Apprenticeship System

16.09: Statements on Passport Service.

19.22: Private Member’s Business. Property Services (Land Price Register) Bill 2021 (Second Stage)

20.37: Dáil adjourns

SEANAD ÉIREANN

13.15: Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill 2022 — Committee Stage.

16.15: Competition (Amendment) Bill 2022 — Second Stage

COMMITTEES

09.00: Joint Committee on Gender Equality. Recommendations of the report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Gender Equality on Care and Social Protection WITH Dr Ursula Barry, UCD,

Prof Mary Murphy, Maynooth University, AND Representatives from TASC

09.30: Committee of Public Accounts. Appropriation Account 2020 Vote 38. Financial Statements 2020 -HSE.

09.30: Joint Committee on International Surrogacy. The potential for a double standard in the protections afforded surrogate mothers in domestic arrangements & protecting the right of the child & existing children to their history and identity, including their genetic, gestational and social origins

Professor Deirdre Madden, UCC

Dr Brian Tobin, NUI Galway

Professor Susan Golombok, Centre for Family Research, Cambridge

Mr Jean Ayoub, secretary general/CEO of International Social Service

Ms Jeannette Wöllenstein, Director of the International Reference Centre at International Social Service

Ms Carlotta Alloero, Senior Liaison Officer, International Social Service

09.45: Joint Committee on Disability Matters. Progressing Disability Services (resumed)

Representatives from D12 Campaign for Inclusion, Helen Holmes

Representatives from Down syndrome Ireland, Nicola Hart, Member Support Team Leader

Representatives from Cavan Monaghan Parents Committee, Linda Whitmarsh, Co-Chairperson

13.30: Joint Committee on the Implementation of the Good Friday Agreement. Architects of the Good Friday Agreement

Mr Tim O’Connor

13.30: Joint Committee on Housing, Local Government and Heritage. Review and Consolidation of Planning Legislation

Officials from Dept of Housing, Local Government and Heritage